The USDA defines specialty crops as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture). Through funding provided for under the Farm Bill and managed by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program funds projects that solely enhance the competitiveness of Delaware’s specialty crop industry.
USDA considers enhancing the competitiveness of specialty crops through:
The Delaware Department of Agriculture manages a competitive solicitation process to award the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. Individual producers, producer groups, organizations, associations, state and local organizations, academia, and other specialty crops stakeholders are eligible to apply, either as single entities or combined efforts. Projects should benefit the specialty crop industry as a whole and provide a positive impact with measurable outcomes.
The Delaware Department of Agriculture is looking for grant projects that solely increase the competitiveness of Delaware-grown specialty crops, sustain the livelihood of Delaware farmers and strengthen Delaware’s economy regarding the following priorities specified by the USDA:
• Enhancing food safety;
• Food safety compliance to address specialty crop buyer requirements for mitigating food safety risks.
• Investing in specialty crop research, including research to focus on conservation and environmental outcomes;
• Developing new and improved seed varieties and specialty crops;
• Pest and disease control;
• Protecting and improving pollinator health;
• Increasing child and adult nutrition knowledge and consumption of specialty crops;
• Increasing opportunities for new and beginning farmers;
• Improving efficiency and reducing costs of distribution systems;
• Developing local and regional food systems;
• Improving food access in underserved communities and among veterans;
• Increasing urban agriculture and other emerging agricultural practices by bringing food production into busy, populated areas – such as vertical gardens, shipping container farms, rooftop farming, hydroponics, community gardens, community composting, and food waste reduction.